The name of this brunch might make you think about rolling out a blanket on a patch of grass and dining on snacks from a picnic basket.
But the important word in this offering from 3-in-1 is “urban”. This is a re-imagined picnic, and a brunch that provides a laid-back alternative to many of its rivals.
Nestled amid the towering buildings of Downtown Dubai, 3-in-1 manages to feel secluded. The airy dining room leads out onto a terrace around the pool, which is where you’ll want to be for this brunch.
You can also book to sit in a poolside cabana, which will cost an extra Dhs100 per person. But unless you want to dip your feet in the pool while eating and drinking, the terrace is pleasant enough.
Brunch here is served as a combination of a buffet and à la carte. And upon arrival, the picnic theme is clear, with plenty of rustic-looking fresh breads, pastries and salads set out. You’ll also see picnic baskets dotted around, which you can use to carry the least-messy foods back to your table. Attempt to transport the wrong items back in your basket, though, and you’ll be trying to rebuild them at your table.
So this is clearly not a traditional picnic, but that’s not to say it’s a disappointment. The starters from the buffet are perfect to kick off a leisurely afternoon of relaxed dining. And the individual salads served in small jars invite return trips to the buffet. For something a bit more substantial, check out the pizza oven, where a chef turns out an array of different options.
When it comes to drinks, 3-in-1 makes it easy by adding most of them to the buffet section. Mixed beverages can be dispensed from huge containers, bottles of grape can be taken from a separate section and cans of hops are kept in a fridge for you to help yourself to.
If you opt for the soft drinks package, there are still some interesting options. Tiny bottles of smoothies may only last a couple of sips, but they’re delicious, so it’s worth stocking up on a selection to save countless walks to and from the fridges.
One of the nicest elements of this brunch is the presentation of the buffet, with everything served in attractive ways.
From the salad jars to the rustic bread baskets, it’s clear that the people behind the 3-in-1 brunch have taken time to think about the theme and get it right.
Main courses are served directly to the table, and will probably make you wish you hadn’t indulged so much in the buffet. A seafood basket, tiger prawns, steaks, ribs and a curry with rice are all served for mains. All the portions are bigger than you would expect, and the quality is high – seafood bursting with freshness and meat that falls apart as you cut into it.
For dessert, it’s a return to the buffet, with plenty of options, many of which are served in mini jars. There are some rich panna cottas, cakes to enjoy by the slice and small ice-cream tubs kept frozen in beds of ice.
Service throughout brunch is unobtrusive, but efficient. You probably won’t notice the staff until you need them, when they have the knack of appearing at exactly the right time.
Taking place on both Friday and Saturday, this isn’t your typical party brunch. The house DJ plays suitably chilled-out music, while the murmur of conversation bubbles away in the background.
It might not be a picnic on the grass, but this urban version of the traditional pastime is perfect for the location.
Fri-Sat 1pm-5pm. Dhs295 (soft drinks), Dhs345 (selected beverages), Dhs495 (bubbly), Dhs100 (additional per guest for cabana by the pool). Vida Downtown Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai (04 888 344404 888 3444).
The bottom line
For a relaxed catch-up with friends over plenty of hearty food, look no further than here.
Three more to try
Family-friendly brunch. Kids go for free.
Dhs195 (soft drinks), Dhs295 (house beverages), free for kids under 11. Sat noon-3.30pm. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 262604 426 2626).
There’s a new Italian barbecue brunch on the revamped terrace.
Dhs185 (food only, 50 percent off house beverages). Sat 12.30pm-5pm, Madinat Jumeirah (04 432 323204 432 3232).
The Emirati restaurant has launched a sharing brunch of traditional dishes.
Dhs99, half price for kids aged six to 12. Fri noon-5pm. The Beach, JBR (04 551 665204 551 6652).